The games are old, and no amount of HD sheen can disguise it. To boot, sequels introduced elements which have come to define the series. Discussions of THPS games trigger memories of spine transfers, reverts and flatland tricks, of getting multi-million scores and combo-ing the world, not doing a kickflip then falling over. To strip all that away is to start players at the beginning, a time before varied objectives, a massive tricklist, and controls now considered commonplace.
NINETEEN NINETY NEIN
For some, though, THPSHD's biggest flaw could prove an even bigger draw. Its stubborn commitment to strictly oldest-of-the-old school skating sees classic levels return, now rendered in fetching HD. School II's the best of a seven-strong bunch which includes Marseille, Downhill Jam, Venice Beach, Mall and the Hangar. All relics of a 32-bit age, yes, but fun to rediscover as you hunt out gaps, transfers and secret tape... er, DVD's.
Meanwhile a tracklist of 14 songs (half new material, half old) pipes music you can set your youth by with the likes of 'Superman' by Goldfinger, 'Anthrax - Bring the Noise' by Public Enemy, and Bad Religion's 'You'. Playable skaters like Andrew Reynolds (now completely bald), Rodney Mullen and Eric Koston are bound to trigger flashbacks, even if upon bailing they flop around, get stuck in the floor, like boneless fleshbags. A fun distraction during online multiplayer sessions, but not so much when you're attempted to chain a big score.
Ultimately, nostalgia isn't enough. Upon falling off your board for the forty-fifth time, spending effort to regain momentum, then falling off for the forty-sixth, all the while cursing the controls (or lack of them) and wondering if THPS games were always this ball-breakingly frustrating, you'll question Activision's decision to remake them. Question them hard.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD looks new but feels old, a game good in its own time but not in ours. It was brilliant in 1999, but then so was Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Gamers wanted - begged - for a return to the classic era of Tony Hawk and the man helpfully obliged. It's going to take them playing these games for themselves to find out they didn't really want it after all.
Great - a decade ago. There are games you should remake, and games you shouldn't. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD falls into the latter category - limited, decrepit and frustrating.
- Seven classic levels re-engineered in fetching HD
- Some classic skaters, and more to unlock
- Half the tracklist
- At its core a 12 year-old relic
- Missing most of the sequels' tricks
- Limited controls prohibit big combos
- The other half of the tracklist